Gyms, germs and the critical importance of a good cleaning routine

While a regular workout at the gym can be good for the health, all that huffing, puffing and sweating can make fitness centres hotbeds for germs.

While a regular visit to the gym can be good for your health, fitness centres can also be infection hotspots if they are not maintained correctly. Although there are strict regulations around pools, saunas, hot tubs and food preparation areas, gyms generally aren’t subject to health department inspections unless a complaint is made or an illness can be traced to the facility.

Because visitors tend to sweat and exhale a lot when using the gym, this can make them high risk areas for pathogens including COVID-19, skin infections and a range of respiratory illnesses. 

ISSA senior director Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner says that gym cleaning goes beyond surface-level aesthetics and is a crucial aspect of effective management. The focus areas are air, water and surfaces, but cleaning needs and routines will differ depending on the facility.

“Maintaining a healthy and safe gym environment involves more than just wiping away the sweat,” Macgregor-Skinner says. “Gym cleaning is rigorous and comprehensive cleaning routines need to meet the needs of each amenity because they are different when it comes to cleanliness – locker rooms, yoga studios, cardio areas, weightlifting areas, basketball courts, group classes, swimming pool area, spa and sauna facilities.”

Checklists of cleaning and maintenance tasks are critical and need to be validated to a define level of cleanliness. Gym staff should be able to articulate what gets done each day at the gym for infection prevention and control. Gym users should also do their part to keep the gym clean, healthy, and safe.

Macgregor-Skinner says the  gym should also be monitoring air quality as indoor air quality monitors are affordable and gyms can have high levels of particles and dust, humidity, formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds, ozone and carbon dioxide. 

“What actions does the gym take when levels of particles or contaminants are high? Does the gym have a policy for users that are sick and coughing or sneezing? Are they refused entry if they have symptoms?”

ISSA has worked with a range of professional sporting teams to establish best practice in locker rooms and training facilities, but Macgregor-Skinner says there needs to be broader education and guidelines for gyms around cleaning. 

“Keeping a gym clean is a fundamental aspect of creating a safe and healthy environment that promotes the well-being of every user. There is currently not enough guidance and training when it comes to cleaning sports fitness centres and gyms to ensure they are healthy and safe.”

Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash.

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required